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26 March, 2015 - 10:24 By Kate Sweeney

E-motorcycles a new multi-billion $ market

Peter Harrop, chairman of IDTechEx

E-motorcycles and their three wheel derivatives are becoming a multi-billion dollar market, according to Peter Harrop, chairman of Cambridge technology thought leader IDTechEx.

A new report from the company reveals gaps in the eco vehicles market – and one is the crossover between bikes and motorcycles created as a premium-priced product.

The rationale is outlined in a new IDTechEx report, ‘Electric Motorcycles and Three Wheel Electric Vehicles 2015-2025’ . Dr Harrop (above) says major players are already pursuing the opportunity. Trefecta Mobility announced a military grade crossover e-bike/ e-motorcycle in March. 

He says Trefecta has been in talks with the Dutch army about supplying the bike for peacekeeping operations. A 4-kW motor, a 14-speed Rohlof Speedhub and a SmeshGear transmission gives speeds up to 43.5 mph yet a pedelec system is also available – “crossover indeed,” says Dr Harrop.

Three closely related new electric vehicle markets due for take-off in 2015 are also analysed in the report. They are electric motorcycles, e-maxi scooters (often called motorbikes) and electric three wheelers from e-rickshaws to disruptive new forms of car and car-like vehicle. 

Dr Harrop said: “This creation of major new EV markets is occurring partly because big brands Yamaha and BMW are entering the field – Yamaha with on and off road e-motorcycles and BMW with an e-maxi scooter initially all in 2015.

“Harley Davidson got user response to a first test design of e-motorcycle in 2014. In 2014-15, Toyota garnered huge interest with an enclosed three wheel, tilting electric motorcycle, the iRoad. In addition, Chinese companies are offering impressive e-maxi scooters and three wheel cars and car-like vehicles and at one third of the price.”

The report reveals how this emerging industry innovates rapidly. Most components are changing, new design rules will apply and additional functions will be added such as multi-mode energy harvesting. 

Dr Harrop said hybrids are needed for long range highway use and some are being readied for use. Timelines are given. “For example, from 2023-25 expect some e-motorcycles in volume production with 300 miles pure electric range and hybrids with 600-1000 miles range combined with acceptable performance and price,” he says.

Dr Harrop says lithium-ion batteries will be used with twice the kWh per dollar or kg and further range improvement will be achieved from improved energy harvesting to aerodynamics, structural components and new components such as SiC and GaN power semiconductors.

The report targets manufacturers of lithium-based rechargeable batteries and electric traction motors for EVs that seek to sell into fast growing new EV markets to get economy of scale and premium pricing.

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